A Recipe For Relaxation
- Episodes : 12
- Genre : Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery
- Airing Date : Jul 2017 - Sept 2017
- Studios : Silver Link
Isekai Shokudou Introduction and Story (Spoilers)
Isekai Shokudou is a unique isekai, or another-world, anime. Instead of the humans being transported to a fantasy world, we have mythical creatures from another world being transported to the human world. To be more specific, a restaurant. Welcome to Nekoya, a restaurant of western cuisine. Of course, to us humans, these are just everyday meals that you can find at any restaurant. But to numerous magical patrons, these regular entrees are high quality western dishes.
Can’t eat meat? No problem! The unnamed chef and owner, simply known as Tensho (Master), will create a special meal just for you. Nekoya is opened to the fantasy world every Saturday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If customers feel like staying longer, then they can enjoy a beer or two, or perhaps order dessert. Just be careful, as some of the patrons can get a little rowdy. Quite often, a customer will get into an argument with another patron. Nothing violent, they’re just disputing which dish is the best on the menu. And if things really heat up, the entire restaurant will join in on the conversation.
Nekoya can get pretty crowded, so they are always in need of hardworking waitresses. Meet Aletta, a demon waitress with horns on her head. Aletta was down on her luck in finding a job back in her world. It’s difficult to get a job when everyone thinks you’re an evil demon. Aletta used to work at a restaurant, but was fired as soon as her horns were revealed. Now Aletta is happy working at Nekoya, where she gets to serve all sorts of creatures from her world. Aletta remembers the regular customers’ favorite dishes, and serves everyone with a smile.
Introducing Nekoya’s most recent hire, Kuro, the Dragon of Death. Kuro is new to socializing, but she’s doing great so far. Kuro prefers to speak to others using telepathy, which can be jarring at first. Kuro can take a ton of orders and remember every single one of them at once. And will serve you as soon as the order is ready. With Master, Aletta, and Kuro, you’re sure to want to return to Nekoya as soon as Saturday hits.
What We Liked About Isekai Shokudou
The art style uses a softer color palette, such as browns and dull yellows to further the zen atmosphere of the restaurant. Each character design is unique, especially when it comes to the animal-like patrons. The food preparation scenes seem like something out a live cooking show, as it looks almost real. The scenery of the fantasy world is vast, and varies from location to location. This really helps, as it makes the audience believe that this is truly another world. There are deserts, forests, mountains, beaches, kingdoms and small villages. Creatures from all over the world enter this small restaurant in Japan.
It’s comparable to that of a person who is traveling to a foreign country. In that country, the traveler walks into a local restaurant that serves common dishes to that country. The traveler points to a random meal on the menu, since he cannot read the country’s language. Once the meal is served to him, the traveler takes a bite of the foreign food. Captivated by its taste, and finishing the plate clean off, the traveler leaves and hopes to return on his next visit. If you’ve ever visited a foreign country, then you’ll be able to relate to this scenario and Isekai Shokudou a lot.
Isekai Shokudou pays a lot of attention to detail. From the sizzling sound effects of a frying pan, to the simple crunch of a person eating. This really creates an atmosphere for the restaurant, making you feel like Nekoya is an actual place. The details aren’t just within the sound effects, but also the characters’ dialogue and movement. Whenever a creature walks into Nekoya, Aletta always asks them if they can “read in the language of the East Continent”. Going back to the traveler’s example from earlier, this is very important to show that not all the mythical beings from the other world have the same written language.
In episode six, we spend an entire episode with Aletta explaining her routine at Nekoya. She calls an elevator “the silver door”, and the buttons inside “square protrusions”. The details are most prevalent in this episode, as we see what Aletta experiences. Of course, there’s nothing exciting about an elevator and its buttons to us, but to a demon from another realm, it’s very out of this world. The customers turn into critics as soon as they try a dish. Once again, going into great detail on the texture and flavor of the meal. All this extra effort that Silver Link put into Isekai Shokudou does not go unnoticed.
To make things even more relaxing, the soundtrack plays lovely melodies with violins, cellos, and pianos. These tracks play at the perfect moment of each episode, and you are overcome with soothing tunes that can put anyone at peace. With a new character to focus on each week, Isekai Shokudou is able to make you understand who they are, and why they love a certain dish so much within ten minutes. We’re always delighted to see an old customer return to the screen, but we never forget the patrons who don’t return. Well, it’s not like they never come back. We see them in the background, but that’s about it. Some patrons we’ve met won’t even speak the next time they show up on screen.
Although we spend a lot of time with Aletta and Kuro, we don’t know very much about Master. What’s his everyday life like when Nekoya is not open to the fantasy world? Do his human coworkers know about Nekoya’s secret? And how is Master able to convert gold and silver coins to yen? Perhaps these questions are irrelevant to the overall story, but a little clarification would be nice.
From time to time, we all need to relax. And not all of us can afford a masseuse. Isekai Shokudou will most definitely suffice in that department. With tasty food, calming BGM, warm characters, and soft art style, Isekai Shokudou might put you to sleep with all that zen it’s built up. We don’t mean “put you to sleep” as in you’ll get bored, but as in a state of peaceful bliss. You start off each episode with an upbeat j-pop opening, and close with a soothing ending. But it doesn’t stop there! The previews at the end of each episode play a delightful tune that’ll release you from your meditation.
2. Food Porn
Master cooks every meal with the customer in mind. We get to see how Master prepares each entree, with cooking appliances that can only be found in the human world. Listen to the sound effects of the boiling water, chopping of vegetables, and dropping of ingredients into the boiling pot. Master always decorates the plate as if it were an aisle. And once the plate is served, the customer never eats it right away. Instead, the customer admires the look of the food, and engulfs themselves in its sent.
Finally, the customer cuts into the entree and takes a bite. Their eyes widen, and a huge smile has formed. Some customers will love the meal for nostalgic reasons. We’ll see a piece of the customers’ backstory, and why this dish is so important to them. Other times, a customer will love the meal because it’s something they’ve never had before. Whatever the case, seeing the characters explain what’s so great about the meal makes us wish that we could taste Master’s cooking as well.
3. The Characters
Ok, so a humanoid-lion gladiator, a princess, and a mage walk into a bar… No, we’re serious! Not only are the main characters a pleasure to see, but the recurring patrons as well. Sometimes the patrons will interact with each other. We laugh at how each customer will defend their favorite dish with their life. And other times, we swoon over a blooming romance or friendship.
Sure, it can get pretty noisy when the characters argue, but they can also come together and share their meal with the rest of the restaurant. At times, you feel as though you are sharing a pint with the patrons as they joke around. Like any feel-good anime, you feel right at home when watching Isekai Shokudou.
If you're looking for a dramatic overarching story where it's revealed that Aletta is actually the demon king and is trying to take over the world...you will be very disappointed. There is no overarching story whatsoever. Every week we follow the same format, where we get a new customer eating a tasty meal. This may be repetitive and even boring to some viewers. If you want to watch Isekai Shokudou, but are more in a fantasy action type mood, then save Isekai Shokudou for a rainy day.
2. Food Porn
Didn’t expect food porn to be on the list twice, did you? As much as food porn is great thing, it can also be the worst. Close to torture in fact. Now that Isekai Shokudou is no longer airing on a weekly schedule, everyone has the pleasure to binge watch the entire season. If you’ve ever binged a cooking anime before, then you’ve probably gone through these symptoms: starvation and/or overeating. This may sound ridiculous to some, but it’s the undeniable truth.
You may want to watch the first episode while eating breakfast. That’s fine, nothing wrong there. Once you’ve finished your breakfast and the first episode, you’re ready to move on to the second episode. But wait! There’s even more delicious food on screen than before! And now you’re hungry again, but you just ate. This is when you make the decision to either starve yourself til lunchtime, or continue snacking throughout the series.
When we watched Isekai Shokudou, we kept up with the episodes on a weekly basis. While watching a new episode, we ate breakfast, lunch, or dinner and that was that. Waited until the next episode aired and repeat the cycle. If you have a problem with food, then try planning out when you should watch the next episode. Maybe watch three episodes a day so you can watch Isekai Shokudou during one of your meals.
3. Left With Questions
By the end of the anime, you might have a few questions that were never answered in Isekai Shokudou. Questions about Nekoya or Master may sprout, but there’s no official English translated light novel to answer these questions. And at the time of this review, there is no confirmation of a season two. We know that Isekai Shokudou is about the customers, and not the restaurant or even Master. But since Isekai Shokudou mainly takes place at Nekoya, and Master is considered to be one of the main characters, we can’t help but ask these questions.
Such as, why does Nekoya only appear on Saturdays? Is Nekoya the only place in the human world that mythical creatures can enter? Has Master ever visited the fantasy world? There’s only one door to Nekoya in the human realm, but several doors in the other world. So how does each character leave the restaurant and suddenly end up back at their home town, and not some other location where the door is? If only we knew how to read kanji so we could read the light novel.
If you’ve been stressed out or just want something comforting, then Isekai Shokudou should definitely be on your radar. Action adventure isekai anime are a dime a dozen these days, but Isekai Shokudou showed us that there’s more than just “Kill the demon king!” to the isekai genre. Are you planning on watching Isekai Shokudou? Have you already seen it? And what are some anime that made you relax? Let us know in the comments. Til next time!